Guidance and Legislation
On 17 December, the UK Government announced a further extension to furlough. The scheme will not now close until 30 April, and the UK Government contribution to wages for unworked hours will remain at 80% (subject to the cap of £2,500) for the life of the scheme.
The UK government has updated its guidance on working safely during the pandemic to reflect the tier system implemented in England post its second lockdown. This entails a 3-tier system ranging from medium, high to very high alert. The guidance is specific to the different types of businesses and industries affected and indicates what the requirements of each tier will be in each of these sectors. The guidance has also been updated to reflect a decrease in the self-isolation period. The self-isolation period has now been reduced to a period of 10 days instead of 14.
HMRC has updated its guidance on the CJRS to reflect the fact that employer's details relating to claims from 1 December onwards will be published on GOV.UK from February 2021. The details will include the employer name, an indication of the value of the claim and, for companies and LLPs, their company number. Other amendments made to the guidance in the CJRS guidance collection include:-
- further information for employers who submit CJRS claims after the deadline;
- confirmation employees should only be placed on furlough as a result of operations being affected by coronavirus, not because they are on annual leave;
- an employer does not need to be facing a wider reduction in demand or be closed to be eligible to claim for employees who are clinically extremely vulnerable or at the highest risk of severe illness from coronavirus; and
- specification of additional circumstances where the Government calculator cannot be used
The DWP has updated its guidance on employing people with a disability or health condition to reflect changes in the world of work since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. It considers issues such as new ways of working, the need for better communication, support for wellbeing and workforce restructuring and change in light of the impact the pandemic has had. It also includes helpful links to a wide range of additional resources on Covid-19 and disability.
New research by the Trade Union Congress (TUC) has revealed that employer monitoring has increased during the pandemic. 15% of employees have reported an increase in monitoring undertaken by their employer since the start of the pandemic, with 27% of employees reporting that their work communications have been screened. An additional 8% had even seen their social media being screened. It was also revealed that 26% of employers were using technology to ascertain when employees started and finished work and that 13% were using technology to measure the duration of work breaks. These statistics raise important questions for employers on the impact such intrusive workplace surveillance can have on their employees. While there is some merit to the argument that employers should be aware of their employees' activities, when it comes to employee monitoring at home very often less is more.
Despite suggestions that the pandemic will have a long term impact on the way we work in the future, a survey of over 6 million job advertisements carried out by Timewise has revealed that 78% of job advertisements posted during this period did not mention flexible working as an option. The figures also showed only a 5% increase in the number of jobs with flexible working being offered post-lockdown when compared with pre-Covid rates. The pattern in the type of jobs offered remained similar to previous years with jobs in the medical and health professions still offering the greatest flexibility. However, the IT, finance and marketing industries saw the greatest increase in flexibility post lockdown.